Kowyns pass

Sabie, South Africa

The Kowyns pass is a col with a length of 7.3 kilometer. This is a category 2 col. It is located in Sabie, Mpumalanga, South Africa. The average grade of this col is 6.6% with a maximum of 7%. The Kowyns pass ascents from 966 meter at the start, to 1.448 meter at the top, with a total of 483 ascending meters.


Kowyns pass Profile


Distance 7.3 km
Elevation gain 483 m
Average grade 6.6 %
Maximum grade 7 %
Climb category 2
Minimum elevation 966 m
Maximum elevation 1448 m

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Kowyn Pass is situated in Mpumalanga province, on the R535 road between Graskop and Bosbokrand. The pass was completed on 3 October 1959. The top has an altitude of 1,448 metres above sea level near Graskop.The pass is believed to have been built along an ancient pedestrian route which connected the lowveld to higher areas towards the west. It is named for the 19th century Bakwena chief Kobêng Moxane, who the voortrekkers referred to as Kowyn. He settled his faction of the Pulana tribe on the Graskop escarpment, after the Swazis scattered them from a former settlement near Pretoriuskop. They were Sotho-speaking people who were initially displaced from the highveld by the disturbances of the Mfecane, and subsequently migrated northwards to escape raids by the Swazis.

The story is told that the original route was created when the tribe sent two donkeys up the escarpment to find the shortest and fastest route. Creating the footpath that was used for many years.

A major rock fall occurred in 1973 at a point where the pass skirts a very steep hill. When rock falls continued despite the area being anchored, the Transvaal Provincial Roads Authority decided in 1977 to construct a reinforced concrete rockfall shelter as a permanent and fail-safe protective measure. The construction of the shelter, some 170 metres long, was completed in August 1980.